Grocery Stores: They’re Not Restaurants

So don’t make them compete with restaurants and bars for restaurant alcohol licenses:

The amendment added in committee was introduced by State Representative Mark Mustio (R-Allegheny).  It is 35 pages in length and precludes pharmacies, convenience, grocery and big-box stores from obtaining a beer license unless they first acquire a restaurant license (in Corbett’s proposal, no restaurant license was required) […]

Beer distributors would also have the option to pay $1,000 to sell in quantities smaller than cases or kegs.  Restaurants and venues with similar licensing could purchase a retail package reform license for $500 to sell up to 24 bottles of beer.

Under the County Quota system, each County gets only 1 license per 3000 people. In denser big cities like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, this is only mildly damaging to the restaurant market, but in smaller cities and less dense areas, liquor licenses can go for as much as $200,000!

And that’s just from competition between restaurants and bars for the licenses. Now you’re talking about introducing supermarkets into the competition for restaurant licenses – a competitor with bottomless pockets who can spend whatever it takes to get a license. It’s going to jack up the cost of a license, creating even higher barriers to entry for new restaurants and bars.

Creating more fake license scarcity is the opposite of creating more competition between more alcohol sellers, which is at base what any decent pro-consumer reform legislation has to do.

Note how none of this has anything to do with public health concerns whatsoever. Nobody’s even pretending to argue they have the broad public interest in mind. This whole debate is about nothing more than brokering power between all the different rent-seeking agendas of the incumbent winners in the alcohol market. It’s really quite a spectacle watching Republican politicians openly admitting their intent to pick winners in this market, protecting some favored businesses from other businesses.

(via Keegan Gibson)


  1. Wow – I can’t believe they would make grocery stores get restaurant licenses. That seems so counter-productive.

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